Kiev: A prominent Ukrainian civic activist and journalist was brutally beaten outside Kiev on Wednesday, the latest in a string of attacks on activists and opposition members amid weeks of protests calling for the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych and his Cabinet.
Hundreds of journalists and opposition activists gathered outside the Interior Ministry headquarters in Kiev today, demanding the resignation of Interior Minister Vitali Zakharchenko after the attack on Tetyana Chernovil.
Some held pictures of Chernovil, who has also been one of the leaders of mass demonstrations that have rocked the Ukrainian capital for more than a month since Yanukovych decided to scrap a deal with the EU in favor of forging stronger ties with Russia.
Chernovil has written for Ukrainska Pravda, as well as other pro-opposition news outlets.
"Shame! Shame!" yelled the demonstrators, some of whom held pictures of Chernovil`s battered, bruised and swollen face.
Chernovil, 34, was attacked as she was driving home. Her car was cornered by a sports utility vehicle. When she tried to flee, she was beaten by several men. Chernovil sustained a concussion, as well as fractures to her nose and face, said her husband Mykola Berezovy.
The attack took place hours after Chernovil published an article on a posh suburban residence which she claimed was being built for Zakharchenko.
The protesters have been demanding Zakharchenko`s resignation after a violent crackdown on a small rally last month left dozens injured. They have also accused Zakharchenko and other members of Yanukovych`s inner circle of profiting while other Ukrainians suffer.
Yanukovych is accused of illegally appropriating a giant estate outside Kiev and building a palatial complex in what critics have called an example of corruption. He denies owning the estate and says he only occupies a small house on its territory.
Chernovil unsuccessfully ran for Parliament on the opposition ticket last year.
In the run-up to the election last summer, she also broke into Yanukovych`s heavily guarded palatial residence in an attempt to expose corruption there.
Yanukovych condemned the attack today and ordered a thorough investigation.
"We express our concern at a strikingly similar series of events over the last few weeks, targeting individuals, property, and political activity ...," the US Embassy said in a statement.